May 27, 2014
THERE'S A SUBSTITUTE FOR SUCCESS
2nd-half subs Diskerud, Johannsson lift USA over Azerbaijan, 2-0
SAN FRANCISCO -- Second-half substitutes Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson scored six minutes apart late in the match to boost the United States to a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan in the first of three Send-off matches prior to the World Cup Tuesday night at Candlestick Park..
Diskerud, who came in Alejandro Bedoya four minutes prior, snapped a scoreless tie as he slotted home a rebound of a Michael Bradley shot after an Azerbaijan defender had blocked the midfielder's attempt in the 75th minute. It was Diskerud's third international goal.
“I got the rebound. Easy goal,” Diskerud told ESPN2.
“It feels good coming off the bench and producing a goal for the team.”
Ironically, Diskerud wore the No. 10 jersey that Landon Donovan had worn for a good decade. Donovan, the most celebrated U.S. men's soccer player in history, was cut from the team last week.
“For me, it’s just a number,” Diskerud said. “I’m playing for the front of the jersey, not the back. Someday he’ll [Donovan] get it back.”
Yet another American sub, Brad Davis sent in a corner kick that Johannsson headed in from six yards past goalkeeper Kamran Agayev in the 81st minute.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard recorded his 53rd international win, tying him with Kasey Keller on the all-time USA list.
Chris Wondolowski, who plays for the nearby San Jose Earthquakes, was a late addition to the Starting XI after forward Clint Dempsey was scratched due to soreness in his groin, so he was pulled out of the starting XI as a precaution.
"He's all right," USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN2 at halftime. "He has a bit of a groin problem. We don't want to risk anything. He has two or three days."
Wondolowski almost gave the USA the lead in the fourth minute. Graham Zusi floated in a free kick from the right side that an open Wondolowski headed from five yards, but Agayev managed to knock his shot away.
Three minutes later, a giveaway by Matt Besler almost gave the visitors a goal. Vaqif Cavadov fired a shot that Howard knocked out of bounds for a corner kick.
Agayev denied Wondolowski on another header, this time from eight yards off a right-wing cross from Zusi in the 15th minute. Agayev had an easier time in gathering in Jermaine Jones' shot in the 18th minute, easily handling the midfielder's one-bounce shot that was deflected.
Bedoya surprised Agayev with a shot from the right side in the 37th minute as the goalkeeper managed to knock it away.
At halftime, Klinsmann replaced right back DaMarcus Beasley with Tim Chandler, center back Geoff Cameron with Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Graham Zusi with Davis.
Davis played a role in giving the USA a scoring opportunity as he was fouled at the top left corner of the penalty area early in the second half, although replays showed that he had been tackled inside the box. The Americans were given a free kick just outside the box, but Bradley's ensuing spot kick was fired over the bar in the 48th minute.
The Americans have two more international friendlies before they leave for Brazil. They play Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on Sunday June 1 before meeting World Cup-bound Nigeria in Jacksonville, Fla. on June 7.